Netball leagues claims victory in stand-off over indoor courts

Netball players have claimed victory after saying resort sports bosses backed down in a row over where they can play.

Wednesday, 16th August 2017, 3:27 pm
Updated Monday, 11th September 2017, 12:18 pm
Netball players were in dispute with Blackpool Sports Centre over the use of the outside courts, which have been revamped at a cost of £16,000

The argument erupted last month when Fylde Netball League was told it couldn’t book indoor facilities at Blackpool Sports Centre during the winter – because £16,000 had been spent overhauling six outdoor courts at Stanley Park next door.

Although Netball England approved the upgrades, fears over the safety of the new nonslip paint in wet weather and concerns over lighting left teams fuming at the decision– with some threatening to quit unless they were allowed to play inside from September to March.

League secretary Barbara Jackson said the strength of feeling – and The Gazette’s intervention – has led to a U-turn, which has been welcomed.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

She said: “It’s a bit of a victory! This affected a lot of people and they took their time to have their say.

“They appreciate The Gazette running the story, and also appreciate the fact it raised awareness and led to further discussions with the sports centre.”

Barbara said the outdoor courts have been jet washed recently, with the council pledging to replace broken floodlight bulbs.

She said lightning struck two floodlights simultaneously during last month’s storm – which caused flooding across the Fylde coast – leaving just four out of 24 lights working, and sending four teams running for cover.

One player said new anti-slip coating applied to the outdoor courts was ‘still really bad’ during rain.

Positive discussions have taken place over letting the league use indoor courts in winter but no final decision has been taken, The Gazette understands.

Blackpool Council, which runs the sports centre, was unable to comment on the matter last night.